Shelter life turns stressful for evacuee

June 28, 2012 - 5:46 PM
Western Wildfires

Simone Covey, a 26-year-old single mother of three, sits on a cot at a Red Cross shelter Wednesday, June 27, 2012, in Colorado Springs, Colo., where she and her family are staying after the Waldo Canyon Fire forced her to leave her apartment. Covey doesn't know if her apartment was destroyed by the fire. The wildfire doubled in size overnight to about 24 square miles (62 square kilometers), and has so far forced mandatory evacuations for more than 32,000 residents. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Thursday, June 28:

"Overheated, "stressed," ''nervous" and "tired." Those were some of the feelings Simone Covey said she was experiencing after spending her second night at the Red Cross shelter in the Cheyenne Mountain High School gymnasium.

Covey was one of hundreds seeking refuge in shelters from the Colorado Springs, Colo., fire and among more than 30,000 forced to flee by the blaze that continued to burn.

She said Wednesday night was especially hard because her oldest daughter, 6-year-old Emma, suffered an asthma attack, overheated and vomited in the bathroom.

Covey also complained about the heat, saying she couldn't fall asleep until 1 a.m.

Meanwhile, her son Logan will turn 3 on Saturday, and Covey said she was upset because she had to leave Logan's presents at her sister's apartment during the rush of the evacuation. She said she didn't know how she was going to celebrate the birthday because "I have no money at all."

Covey received a few gifts for her son from a local charity, and the Red Cross has promised to make the day special.

But beyond the day-to-day inconveniences of living in a shelter, one of Covey's biggest concerns is the fate of her sister's home. She said the media have reported that the fire line is dangerously close — just a few blocks away.

"It keeps jumping from house to house," Covey said.

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Wednesday, June 27:

The Waldo Canyon wildfire forced thousands of people away from their homes and into Red Cross shelters when ferocious winds drove the blaze into the western suburbs of Colorado Springs on Tuesday night.

Among those who scrambled for safety was Simone Covey, a 26-year-old single mother of three. Homeless, Covey had been looking after her sister's apartment near the spectacular Garden of the Gods park when she was told to leave Tuesday evening.

"The sky was red, the wind was blowing really fast, and there were embers falling from the sky," Covey said at a Red Cross shelter inside the basketball gymnasium of Cheyenne Mountain High School. "I didn't really have time to think about it. I was just trying to keep my kids calm."

Family in tow, Covey arrived at the shelter and pushed several military-style cots together to keep her children close. They ate cheeseburgers Tuesday night; Wednesday's lunch consisted of gyros served in Styrofoam containers.

Donated children's books, teddy bears and other stuffed toys were scattered across blankets that bore the Red Cross emblem. Covey's children, ages 3, 5 and 6, splashed around in kiddie pools set up outside the shelter to beat the scorching heat. Inside, a bank of fans did little to keep the gym cool.

And with nowhere to go, Covey planned on spending another night.

"It's definitely different. It's loud, but other than that, it's not that bad," Covey said.

She said she hoped to get a motel room soon — but confided that "finances are kind of tight right now."

Red Cross spokeswoman Catherine Barde said 159 people stayed at the Cheyenne Mountain High School shelter Tuesday night, and 148 people were at three other shelters.